Other Questions.

Departmental Agencies.

Catherine Byrne


76 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the legislation that is required to achieve the rationalisation of agencies under the remit of his Department announced in budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41242/08]

Paul Connaughton


77 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the assessment that was carried out of potential savings resulting from the proposed merger of the National Archives, National Library and National Manuscript Commission; the projected savings to be achieved; the costs which it is envisaged might be associated with the amalgamation of these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41248/08]

Noel Coonan


84 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the assessment of cost savings that was carried out in respect of the proposed amalgamation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Crawford Art Gallery and National Gallery of Ireland; the projected savings to be achieved; the costs which it is envisaged might be associated with the amalgamation of these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41250/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 77 and 84 together.

For the information of Deputies, it is worthwhile to set out the rationale behind the decision to combine the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Crawford Art Gallery and National Gallery of Ireland while retaining their separate brand identities, and the decision to merge the National Archives, Irish Manuscripts Commission and National Library. These decisions, which were announced in budget 2009, arose from the scrutiny by my Department of administrative costs which was undertaken earlier this year as part of the Government's efficiency review, with a particular focus on the number of State agencies and other bodies and in the context of the ongoing oversight exercised by my Department of these institutions against the backdrop of the 2009 Estimates process.

Deputies may be aware that the programme for Government contains a commitment to put the Irish Museum of Modern Art on a statutory footing. They may also be aware that the legislation underpinning the National Archives has been undergoing critical analysis by the National Archives Advisory Council and officials of my Department, with a view to updating both the functions of the National Archives and the management structures surrounding the archives.

Throughout this process, I was aware that some institutions had reasonably good numbers of support staff. However, the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork which recently came under my Department as a national cultural institution did not have in-house administrative support. Institutions such as this cannot be expected to function efficiently without the normal level of human resources, finance and other back-up.

As well as these particular and individual imperatives, I am obliged to ensure our national cultural institutions function through and are supported by administrative and other structures which are efficient and effective and reflect the principles of modernisation and flexibility set out in Towards 2016.

When one takes all these factors into consideration against the background that the expected continuing pressure on the public purse will not be matched by any decline in expectation or demand for quality customer services, the rationalisation of the support or back office functions within complementary national cultural institutions is not an optional consideration at this time and must be undertaken. Since the budget announcement on this matter, I have initiated a consultative process with the directors of the national cultural institutions involved. They have been requested to consider the future arrangements necessary to give effect to these decisions and bring forward any issues they perceive will need to be specifically addressed under various headings such as legislation, governance, unified management structures, unified support services and resources. I am also establishing consultative committees in respect of each project which will be led by the Department and will have in their membership representatives of the national cultural institutions. These committees will manage the many issues which will arise.

In parallel with this process work will commence on producing heads of a Bill to give effect to the required legislative changes. These changes will include amendment of the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997, National Archives Act 1986 and National Gallery of Ireland Acts 1854 to 1963 and the creation of new legislation. My objective in this development is to seek the best structures for our national cultural institutions in order that, in facing into times of stringency, they can continue to deliver core services to their respective customers to their normal and superlative standards.

I also want to ensure these institutions, which contribute collectively to the 3 million visitors our national cultural institutions receive annually, continue to be a core part of our tourism product. In more discerning tourism markets internationally, the national cultural institutions differentiate us as a destination of distinction and value. This summer, a visitor to Dublin could have viewed works by Bacon, Monet, Gauguin, Freud, Scully and Rembrandt and read original Yeats and Joyce manuscripts before enjoying the Berlin Philharmonic and catching a glimpse of an Oscar winning songwriter. This is the kind of cultural immersion and variety that few cities in Europe can offer. It is entirely appropriate that we continue to invest financially and legislatively in these internationally important institutions in order that they continue to flourish in the new economic environment. It is not possible at this stage to identify what savings, if any, will be realised through this process.

I am surprised by the Minister's reply because he appears to suggest these measures were taken in the interests of the institutions in question and to improve the quality of the product provided to members of the public. The idea for these measures emanated from the Department of Finance and is purely a money saving exercise. Why has a cost analysis not been done to identify how much money will be saved? While I am fully in favour of eliminating quangos, none of the institutions under discussion is a quango. They are the anchor institutions of Irish culture with traditions dating back to the 18th century.

To decide on the back of an envelope whether to get rid of some or merge others and then suggest that this will somehow improve matters while at the same time saying it is a good idea to invest in cultural institutions does not make sense. How is that consistent with the Minister's capital budget for the cultural institutions being decreased by 48%?

Notwithstanding what might have to happen in the Crawford Gallery in Cork, how does the Minister intend, for instance, in the case of organisations such as the National Archives and the National Library to bring them together and somehow assume they are going to be more efficient as a result? Is there to be a new building and are they to come together on a single site? Is that the way the efficiencies and improvements are to be achieved? Does the Minister agree that these are not bloated organisations, which are overspending or overstaffed? Nothing could be further from the truth. How are the savings to be made?

I was disappointed with the first remarks made by the Deputy, and then quite happy with the second half, because she began to touch on the reality of the position. This is not for me, I can assure the Deputy, a simple issue of looking at figures on a page, drawing lines through them and achieving an outcome. That would not work and it would be foolish to approach it simply on cost-saving lines. A vast range of issues must be considered and everyone is concerned with getting the maximum return from these institutions, to give them the greatest possible remit in terms of their public functions and to substantially increase the number of visitors they enjoy. Cultural tourism is now a big business in Ireland. I opened a conference yesterday in Dublin and I was very encouraged by the scale and numbers of people involved, as well as by the international participants. More than 3 million tourists last year — and probably more this year — visited or will visit the cultural institutions. That is not to say they should be just left as they are. To me the Deputy is suggesting that we do nothing. Do we need 40 directors, for example, in three galleries to make them function?

How much is that saving?

This is not about savings at all — and that is why I am putting the question to the Deputy. I have said I do not know whether there will be any savings at the end of it. The Deputy has raised a whole range of issues that I will be scrutinising in terms of whether they should be based in one location, amalgamated, what the board structure will be, the role of the chief executive, the HR functions and so on. There clearly is a good deal of duplication, even triplication, in so many of the institutes, where they all have utterly independent administrative functions. As to whether there can be greater efficiencies, the answer is probably "Yes", but to do much of this it must be decided what else needs to happen and whether the approaches to be taken will be cost-effective. The outcome I want is to maximise to the absolute end all of the institutes, including the National Archives — which I have a good deal of time for — in terms of their ability to be part and parcel of this country's cultural performance.

The Minister is presenting this amalgamation to the House as though it were a long-term strategy and something he had planned long before——

This was actually going on long before I arrived in this Department.

The Minister will please allow the Deputy to put the question before answering.

It coincided with budgetary requirements, and I suggest that this is not really case. To me this reads like cutting costs and finding means for making savings. I was very impressed with what the Minister had to say about cultural tourism, which is really important for the country, but bundling together all of these agencies that have quite different functions does not make sense as regards enhancing the attractions of cultural tourism. I wonder what is the logic.

On another point, I believe the Minister said he had asked the various directors to give their views to him on this. That sounds somewhat like asking turkeys about Christmas. The directors will surely not come up with a system whereby they will chop off their own heads and say, in effect, "I do not want to be a director any more — it makes a lot of sense to me". Behind this initiative, therefore, there must be some strategy or some plan.

There is a serious plan of engagement, but the Deputy is presenting this as black and white. One of the greatest institutions in the world with which we are all familiar is the Smithsonian Institute. It has everything embraced within one structure; are the Deputies telling me it does not work? Scotland is——

They are funded.

Just hang on a minute. Scotland is an example where all the galleries and museums are under one structure, the National Galleries of Scotland. There is one national organisation there although we seem to believe there must be a board of directors to run everything in this country. A body must be independent, stand-alone, with its own managing director and ten other directors, HR and administrative people, or otherwise it cannot function. That, in my view, is a load of nonsense.

Is the Minister telling us that what is required is one enormous capital investment?

If the Deputy had listened to the answer I gave Deputy Mitchell — and she expanded on what I said — the answer to all these issues is that we need to look at whether there will be any savings. I am being quite open. There may not be any savings. Even if there are not, the question is whether those cultural institutions are getting the most out of the money being invested in them. For example, the National Archives is a wonderful body and has an extraordinary treasure of history, but only 18,000 people a year visit it. Some of the national archives in other countries——

It is located in a biscuit factory.

——-have hundreds of thousands of people visiting them. They run major public programmes in a variety of areas. I should like to see our National Archives institute being put in a position to do that. If it is a fault of the structure or the funding that it cannot do that at the moment, let that fact emerge. That body contains an extraordinary store of this nation's archives and has the capacity to play a much greater role, both in terms of Irish people who want access to the archives; to attract people who want to use its resources for educative purposes, if they are following a master's, PhD programme or whatever; or simply tourists who have an interest in cultural tourism. We should not be afraid to tackle the issue, but we should not be prescriptive as regards outcomes.

The Minister is absolutely right——-

I thank the Deputy.

——-in saying he should not be afraid to tackle the issue. However, the issue should be tackled after he has done the analysis on whether there will be savings and increased efficiencies, and what must be spent in order to achieve those outcomes. The reality is that all those organisations are completely under-funded, particularly in terms of the structures they occupy. They are at the receiving end of more and more artefacts and materials every year and the National Archives next month will get another year's material but has nowhere to put it. The Minister wonders why nobody visits it. It is because it is locaed in a biscuit factory and they can find nothing. That is the reality. Investment is required. Will he say, at least, what the future of the National Archives is, in terms of the building it will occupy in the future? When exactly will the National Archives — which the Minister regards as so precious — get the building it merits? The reality is that we shall lose the archives in a fire or something else unless he does something about it.

I am glad the Deputy agrees fully with what I have said, as it is quite clear that she does. I appreciate that and feel like saying, "I rest my case". I and my Department are engaged with the National Archives. I fully accept the Deputy's point that the space for the type of storage necessary is utterly inadequate and I believe the OPW has sourced a facility that will meet the requirements in that regard. However, that is only part of the solution and not the full answer.

Can the Minister give the House details of that?

I do not have the details in front of me because they are under negotiation at the moment.

I would be very interested to hear the details. Is it a location that will be acceptable to the National Archives? Is it a new purpose-built facility that will provide the necessary temperature controls, fire and water requirements and so on?

I believe it will meet all the requirements. Part of the brief was that the property would have to meet all the standards required for the storage of national archive material. However, I do not have the details at this stage and cannot say whether anything is finalised.

National Sports Campus.

Ulick Burke


78 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the phase one development building programme announced for the National Sports Campus has been postponed, cancelled or otherwise changed in view of the more than one third cut in its capital budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41241/08]

Bernard Allen


89 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the broad breakdown of the purpose of the €2.4 million allocated to the National Sport Campus in budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41230/08]

Eamon Gilmore


92 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the amount of money that has been spent on the National Sports Campus at Abbotstown since the scheme’s inception; if this figure included the cost associated with the planned stadium and land purchases; if this represents value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41120/08]

Olivia Mitchell


95 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the project or projects to be funded from the €4.4 million in capital allocation to the National Sports Campus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41228/08]

Bernard J. Durkan


101 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the current or expected position in regard to Campus Stadium Ireland; if the project or parts thereof have been shelved, amended or dropped; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41215/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78, 89, 92, 95 and 101 together.

Following the opening of the National Aquatic Centre in 2003 and a subsequent Government decision in January 2004 to proceed with a phased delivery of the National Sports Campus at Abbotstown lands, capital expenditure of €1.05 million was made in the preparation of the development control plan for the campus and €7.3 million on the refurbishment of the former State laboratories as the new headquarters for the FAI. By the end of 2008 an amount of €2.6 million in capital funding will have been made on project management and design fees in progressing the phase 1 facilities of the sports campus. Expenditure on the campus prior to 2004, and chiefly involving the capital cost of the National Aquatic Centre opened in 2003, was €81 million of which €62.5 million excluding VAT is attributable directly to the capital development of the centre. I am satisfied that each of these expenditures represents good value for money.

The allocation for the National Sports Campus Development Authority for 2009 provided for in the 2009 Estimates stands at €4.4 million of which some €2.4 million is a current allocation for the administration and running costs of the authority, with the remaining €2 million being a capital allocation. It is intended that the capital allocation for 2009 will be used to meet the costs of refurbishing the former meat control laboratory on the Abbotstown site as a new headquarters for the Irish Institute of Sport, work on which is due to commence in December with an anticipated completion date in mid-2009.

I am reviewing with the NSCDA how we might best advance the campus project from 2009 notwithstanding the current difficult economic circumstances.

What questions are currently being dealt with?

Question Nos. 78, 89, 92, 95 and 101. There are four from Deputy Mitchell and one from Deputy Upton.

The major investment of phase 1 of the development of the sports campus was announced three times by the Minister and his predecessor. As recently as July the Minister visited the sports campus and said he looked forward to the development being ready to train our athletes for the 2012 Olympics. Can the Minister clarify if this investment is going ahead and will it be ready to train athletes for the 2012 Olympics?

This is a 500 acre site and precious little has happened to it for some time. How much is this costing the taxpayer? The campus is lying idle with nothing more there than the offices of the FAI, which is wonderful for the FAI but I cannot see how the fortune of sport is significantly increased by giving it offices.

The Minister mentioned the state-of-the-art swimming pool and I submitted a question on this. Is the swimming pool paying its way? The Minister might clarify that; last year it required a subsidy of €2 million ——

That is a separate question.

The Minister can confine himself to the questions I have asked. How much does the entire holding cost to maintain, supervise and insure annually? Is the phase 1 investment even going ahead, much less phase 2? The stadium seems to have gone into netherland.

After seeing 82,000 people in Croke Park last Saturday I would love to see Abbotstown built given the difference of 30,000.

Order in the answering of questions please.

There is €2 million in the capital budget. Can the Minister tell me what that will be spent on? Is it for more offices?

There are design teams involved and we want to keep it going. I told Deputies Mitchell and Upton previously that the old meat laboratory will be fully finished by mid-2009 for the institute of sport; that is important and I was with them to see it happen. The Abbotstown lands have been in State ownership for years, long before I came into this House. They are State-owned lands, and incur the normal costs for maintenance as other State-owned land. I do not have a specific figure.

I listed what was involved in the cost of phase 1 of Abbotstown, which was approximately €150 million. I wanted to include a velodrome in it which increased the cost to €160 million. A velodrome is an essential element in Irish sport and Deputy Mitchell may share my view. In the UK they have shown how far they have advanced in sport and the number of medals they have won since building velodromes. It is unlikely the full building of that phase can be achieved in the current economic climate. It is a reality I have to face. As late as last July I thought it might proceed but we all know what has happened here and worldwide since, which has made things immeasurably difficult.

If I cannot do the entire project I still want to move forward aspects of the project that will be valuable, such as the national indoor training arena which benefits at least 25 sports. We can still proceed with elements of the project without impacting negatively on the overall project and I am trying to see how we can best proceed with that. I am currently in discussion with campus authorities.

The Green Party would be delighted with the velodrome as it would encourage cycling. The Minister mentioned the national indoor training centre and that is welcome. Will the sports science and medical facilities be included in the project? Is there a list of priorities? The Minister may have mentioned them but will they be ordered or sequenced?

I am discussing that with the board in Abbotstown at the moment. One or two items cannot be picked out, they must be coherent, cohesive and complementary. The medical facilities are important. The indoor training facilities are the core of this as they benefit many sports. The hockey facilities would also have a huge impact and fit naturally with a phased development. The possibility of the Irish men's and ladies' hockey teams doing very well at the 2012 Olympics is real and if we had all the indoor training and medical facilities they need in Ireland in Abbotstown we could make a substantial impact.

What will be in the sports institute facilities to be completed next year?

All the State Laboratories were there and we are refurbishing a dedicated building for the staff of the institute of sport. I do not have the brief here but the Deputy can table a parliamentary question and I will get the details.

Sports Funding.

Paul Kehoe


79 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if funding has been included in the 2009 capital budget to fund the investment recommended for the University of Limerick and University College Dublin in the consultant’s report on the potential of the 2012 Olympics for Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41286/08]

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Task Force was established in August 2006 to ensure Ireland can identify and maximise the complete range of opportunities arising from our proximity to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London 2012. The task force included experts from the sport, tourism, cultural and business sectors and was supported by staff within my Department.

The task force report makes a number of recommendations arising from an audit carried out of high quality sports facilities in Ireland and the findings of a report by Indecon International Economic Consultants on the economic evaluation of the benefit to the island of Ireland of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The report highlights the opportunities for Ireland from the London 2012 Games in the sport, tourism, cultural and business sectors. On the sporting side the report puts forward proposals for investment in sports facilities which would increase our attractiveness as a training destination for Olympic teams in the lead up and during the games. I understand that inquiries have already been made about the availability of sports facilities here for some Olympic teams, for example, the Australian team is interested in using the swimming facilities in the aquacentre in Abbottstown.

Both the University of Limerick and University College Dublin have received capital funding from my Department in recent years towards the development of sports facilities. In 2006, my Department allocated €1 million towards phase 1 of the sports facilities development at the University of Limerick, particularly with a view to the potential usage of the university as a centre for teams preparing for the London 2012 Olympics. Previous funding to the university sports complex since 1998 was in the form of a €7.55 million grant for the construction of the national 50 metre swimming pool.

The quality of the facilities at the University of Limerick is amazing and I urge colleagues to visit them. The number of elite athletes from all over the world who come to Limerick is incredible. I was surprised by the quality of the staff, which is at the high end of excellence in world sport, and the standard of the facilities. The swimming facilities and the indoor arena, etc., are of the highest international quality and we should be proud of them. I congratulate the University of Limerick on the way it has managed the facilities and on its staff.

The Irish Sports Council, ISC, also provides annual funding to Coaching Ireland, formerly the National Coaching and Training Centre, which is located at the University of Limerick. Coaching Ireland has an all-island remit to lead the development of coaching in Ireland and in 2008 received €1.9 million from the ISC for coaching services, player athlete services and corporate services.

In recent years, the Department has also allocated over €1.3 million in capital grants to the UCD sports department towards the development of its sports facilities. In addition, the national hockey arena, which is located at UCD, was developed with Government funding to the value of €1.29 million.

I am considering the implementation of the recommendations of the task force report. I do not deny, however, that the current economic situation has had an impact on the situation.

I agree the University of Limerick has a wonderful facility, which has been successful as far as it goes. For that reason, it is a venue that is worth further investment. However, what is the point in having a report such as the Indecon report and doing nothing on foot of it? The next Olympic Games are to be held in 2012 and teams are now booking where they will train.

The Minister said he had already had inquiries about Abbottstown. Decisions will be made in the next year or two about where teams will go and they will not book into a place that has not yet been built. Therefore, it is time for the Minister to make up his mind. Has there, for example, been a response to the University of Limerick proposal for the project that would cost €28 million, half of which the university would put up itself? Has the Minister done anything with regard to the recommendations of the Indecon report, particularly the proposal from Limerick? Given we are not going to build in Abbottstown and there will be no improvement in facilities there, will there be compensatory investment in either UCD or the University of Limerick as recommended by the report?

The Deputy should not put words in my mouth. I have not said that we are not going to build in Abbottstown. I have been more than fair in my effort to tell the Deputy precisely what I am going to do. I have nominated the particular facilities that I see as a priority to be built at Abbottstown. The proposals for all of these facilities are only going to planning and everything depends on getting planning permission. We do not know how long that process will take. I could not have moved more quickly than I have at this stage.

Why not? This was announced two years ago.

On account of the design work. There is a full design team working on this and it is employed and paid to work these things out and to get them right. It has told me it has the process completed and intends to seek planning permission before the end of the year.

As a matter of interest for the Deputy, there are significant numbers of inquiries being made for the use of facilities that are not yet built. We have an enormous amount of bookings already for the National Conference Centre, for example. It is not completed yet, but people realise it will be.

That is because it is being built by the private sector. However, where we must depend on the Minister to make a decision, projects are not happening.

I hope to be in a position to proceed but unfortunately, although this does not affect Deputy Mitchell or the Fine Gael Party, we have a major economic crisis on our hands, nationally and internationally. I know that from Deputy Mitchell's perspective this is largely irrelevant and we are expected to find moneys under every bench in the House to fund everything we want to do. At the same time, the Fine Gael finance spokesman comes in every day and says we are spending too much money. The Deputy cannot have it every way.

The question relates to investment in UCD and the University of Limerick. The Minister twice mentioned the swimming pool in the University of Limerick and the hockey pitches in UCD. These are great facilities, but are the other facilities considered to be world class? If the Indecon report recommends significant investment, we need to go ahead with it in order to make the facility available. I accept what the Minister says about the finances, but is it planned to try and meet the recommendation of the Indecon report?

It is interesting that a significant number of athletes who won gold, silver or bronze medals at the most recent Olympics have participated in activities in the University of Limerick. I did not realise so many of them came to the university for training, physiotherapy, medical facilities or coaching facilities. It is recognised as one of the best in a range of areas. It has a range of facilities, not just the pool. It has a huge indoor arena and four basketball courts. The All-Blacks trained there the other day. I should have tripped a few of them on Monday and perhaps we might have got over the hump last night. What an occasion the match in Thomond Park was last night.

I agree we could do more. There is no question but that we want to do more and will do so. Currently, I am trying to maximise what I can do with very limited resources. That is where I am at in terms of the process.

The Minister's comment on athletes coming from other countries is very interesting. If we have such good facilities, will the Minister look at the gap that exists with regard to Ireland not achieving as many medals as we would like at the Olympics? If we have the capital and the facilities, what is missing?

We need more facilities. However, even if we had all the facilities in the world, I could not say we would win medals. Much of it comes down to the constant level of international competition and of elite coaching needed for many of the different disciplines. I was told a story in Beijing that demonstrates this. The Chinese decided they wanted to win a cycling medal in the velodrome in China. They sent a 17 year old girl to Switzerland for four years where she did nothing but learn her craft, picking up French and English along the way. She won a medal. That is the type of dedication that is needed.

I have seen the facilities in the University of Limerick and I agree they are excellent. However, does the Minister not think there is too much emphasis nowadays on centres of excellence and high performance? The majority of young people feel excluded and perhaps we should look at the idea of increasing young people's participation in a range of sports. Currently, the emphasis is on winning at all costs and training the top 20%, whereas 80% of people involved in sports are of average ability. Many of these people do not get the opportunity to use or are excluded from these top class facilities. Does the Minister have any plans to increase participation in sport by many young people?

Over the past while we have invested almost €800 million into the type of facilities the Deputy suggests, into local small clubs, etc., for many different sports throughout the country. This has had a huge impact. The ESRI recently published a report which identified two areas in sport that need attention, young women and disadvantaged children. There is significant work to be done in these areas.

I commend local sports programmes such as those the FAI are running with local authorities. These are successful and worthwhile and are the type of programmes we need to do in all sports areas. While the focus of the questions today has been on major facilities, we should remember that if we build Abbottstown, which we need, Sweden has 22 such facilities. I will not mention what Germany, France and the UK have. We need such high-end facilities for all athletes to aspire to, whatever their sport or discipline and we should have them. This is the reason Abbotstown is very important——

I wish to take a final question.

——as is the University of Limerick, and having a regional structure in respect of such facilities is crucial, along with, as the Deputy correctly noted, issues regarding disadvantage and young children in sport.

Sports Capital Programme.

Enda Kenny


80 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the commitments made for each year, including 2008, which are outstanding in respect of the 2008 sports capital budget; if it is expected that all of the €56 million will be drawn down in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41288/08]

Under the sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Since 1998, the Government has allocated more than €725 million in sports capital funding to more than 7,400 sports projects nationwide. This investment has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland and has allowed the development of sports facilities nationwide. These facilities have dramatically increased the opportunities for all people to engage in a wide variety of sports.

I will circulate, with my reply, a tabular statement that sets out the amount of outstanding allocations as at the end of October for each of the years of the programme since 2002, when the Department was established. The full 2008 allocation of €58 million from the C1 subhead, which is provided for grants to sporting bodies for the provision of sports and recreation facilities, has been distributed to the successful applicants at this stage. The multi-annual capital investment framework from 2009 to 2013, as published in the Book of Estimates, will enable the commitments made under the sports capital programme to be met in future years.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

Sports Capital Programme

Sports Capital Programme


Subhead Allocation

Still to be drawn down


































*As at end October 2008.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I understand the Minister has informed various organisations that there will be no new capital sports grant scheme this year. Precious little will happen in Abbotstown, I understand there will be no new swimming pool programme this year and obviously, there will be no money for the universities' sports capital programme either. The Minister's own programme, that is, the sports capital grant scheme, is funded out of national lottery money. The money to be spent this year was committed last year or in previous years and I presume it will be paid out as the applications come in. Consequently, I presume that any savings that will accrue will not do so until 2010. What will happen to the lottery money in 2010, if it is not bound for the sports capital grants scheme?

I wish the money came from the national lottery. However, there is no abrogated tax to my Department marked, "national lottery". The national lottery money goes into the central Exchequer.

If one examines the budget book——

I am giving the Deputy a straight answer, if she will permit me to finish.

——every year, it states the scheme is partially funded by the national lottery.

While the national lottery may well believe that, I am giving the Deputy a straight answer.

The national lottery does not prepare the budget.

Not a single cent of the money that comes in from the national lottery goes to my Department. The money from the national lottery goes to the central Exchequer and every year, when the Estimates are prepared, I bid for resources for my Department. If some of those resources happen to come from the national lottery, that is fine. However, the point I am trying to make is there is a widespread misunderstanding in this regard. People throughout the country keep telling me that I have no worries because my funding comes from the national lottery. My reply is that this is not the case and that the lottery money goes to the central Exchequer, rather than to my Department. I get my share of the total income received by the Exchequer. It forms part of the total income, as does income tax, VAT, stamp duty or whatever else.

In the minute left to us, if Deputy Mitchell will allow me——

That is how it is done.

——I will call two Deputies.

I am simply outlining the position to the Deputy.

The Minister should allow Deputy Upton to ask a question.

I wish it was different.

It is earmarked in legislation for recreation and sport.

I will call the Deputy again. I call Deputy Upton.

I have a slightly different angle on this issue. In a recent reply to a parliamentary question I tabled on the sunset clause, the Minister stated that slightly more than €23 million was not drawn down between 2001 and 2008. Some of this funding pertained to the Clár and RAPID disadvantaged areas. Can this funding be extended? I refer to the percentage that must be put in place to meet the matching funds, because often such areas do not have the capacity to do so. This reverts to my earlier question. For example, boxing clubs often operate within disadvantaged areas and even if funding is available, they are not always in a position to draw it down because of their lack of resources.

There must be a point——

The Minister should wait as I have not yet called him. I will take Deputy Mitchell as well for her final supplementary.

When the relevant legislation was passed, I specifically remember the national lottery money was earmarked. The legislation states it must be spent on sport and recreation.

That has not been the case for a long time.

What does the Minister mean?

If one considers the overall contribution from the national lottery, it is significantly greater than that.

This issue will be raised in this House.

While that sounds like——

When the Oireachtas passes laws and provides the Government with authority to spend money——

There would not be as many tickets sold now.

That sounds like a good question——

This is outrageous.

——for the next Question Time.

I would be delighted if the moneys from the national lottery were abrogated, if that is the correct term, to sport, to my Department.

Nine out of ten people believe that to be the case.

Is the Minister telling me it is going into a black hole?

I am simply clarifying for the Deputy——

That concludes Question Time for today.

A question to the Minister for Finance is appropriate in this respect. The Minister should have asked questions——

——the money goes to the central Exchequer.

The Deputy should allow the Minister his final sentence.

The Deputy should not dig a hole.

The Government should not put lottery money into a hole.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.